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huaiwei said:
Actually ppl have been asking them they they collect such fees when ppl call in to donate for all other forms of charity. I dont care if they charge the shit out of those who call to vote taufik, but surely donations should be a diffrent matter altogether?
Yah lor. Why don't they donate all the surcharge calls from Singapore Idol to the Tsunami aid relief effords. Pretty sure got at least a few million...
 

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Sekali Singtel say....oh...coz they also donated several thousands?

Maybe if we balance the two, they get to break even...hahaaha
 

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He havent donate meh?
 

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huaiwei said:
He havent donate meh?
Think got, but the sum he donated like a bit only.
 

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CW8 said:
Think got, but the sum he donated like a bit only.
Well...leadership by example. If he dosent donate, dont expect the rest of the world to. :D
 

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One more Singaporean confirmed dead in tsunami; 15 missing

SINGAPORE : One more Singaporean has been confirmed dead in Thailand, according to the latest update from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

No other details are immediately available, except that the woman was earlier reported in the media to have died in Thailand.

Police have contacted her next of kin and after gathering details of the circumstances surrounding the case, confirmed she was a tsunami victim.

This brings the death toll to eight -- six in Thailand and one each in Sri Lanka and India.

Fifteen persons are still missing -- 13 in Thailand and two in Indonesia.

More people reportedly to be in tsunami stricken areas have also been contacted.

The number on the uncontactable list has dropped further to 17, from 20 on Wednesday.

Of these, 10 are in Thailand, four in India and three in Indonesia.

Relatives and friends of Singaporeans who were known to have travelled to these areas and were uncontactable earlier, have been asked to call the Singapore Contact Centre 6332 0000. - CNA
 

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Hmm...another small girl dies....
 

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Jan 4, 2005
Singapore to be UN regional relief centre

Today, PM Lee and Defence Minister Teo visit disaster areas in Aceh
By Chua Mui Hoong
Senior Political Correspondent


SINGAPORE will be a regional coordination centre for international relief operations to countries hit by the tsunami disaster.

The United Nations has accepted Singapore's offer of its air and naval facilities, as well as office space and logistics facilities, to ease the distribution of aid in the region.

A coordination centre will also be set up in the next few days in the Paya Lebar or Changi areas to be near the air and naval bases. It will remain as long as needed.

In coming weeks, UN officials as well as a flotilla of aid supplies and aircraft are expected to call at Paya Lebar Air Base, Changi Naval Base and the new crisis centre, en route to some of the worst-hit disaster areas, such as Aceh in northern Sumatra.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean are visiting disaster areas in Medan, Meulaboh and Banda Aceh in Sumatra today.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs deputy secretary Andrew Tan said at a media briefing yesterday that the offer to the UN flowed naturally from Singapore's position as a transport and logistics hub.

The open offer to take advantage of Singapore's good infrastructure came with an assurance that aid would be handled efficiently.

'We'll make sure it gets channelled to the right places, leveraging upon the fact that the Singapore Armed Forces have people on the ground, and have access at sea which can be secondary staging points, and also helicopter access to distribute the aid to villages and affected areas,' he said.

Singapore's port authority earlier said it would waive all charges for handling relief supplies sent through its ports.

So far, more than US$2 billion (S$3.3 billion) in aid from governments worldwide has been pledged. Individuals have donated millions more, after the Dec 26 earthquake unleashed tsunamis that left nearly 150,000 dead in southern and South-east Asia and Africa.

As aid flows to affected areas, logistical bottlenecks have surfaced, as the tsunamis destroyed roads, jetties and airports.

Singapore can 'help release some of the logjams', said Mr Tan.

In its biggest ever humanitarian response effort, Singapore has sent 10 helicopters, two landing ships and more than 800 military, police, civil defence and medical personnel, mainly to Thailand and Indonesia. They will be made available to help UN relief operations.

Singapore's helicopter landing ship RSS Endurance achieved a breakthrough yesterday when it established a landing site at Meulaboh in western Sumatra, which had become inaccessible except by helicopter.

Ships can now offload vehicles, supplies and heavy engineering equipment to clear roads and debris.

Singapore also played a pivotal part in initiating Thursday's summit of world leaders to coordinate international responses to the disaster. It will be held in Jakarta, with Malaysia and Myanmar the latest to confirm they would attend.

The offer to the UN is the latest in Singapore's response.

Asked how much the effort would cost Singapore, Mr Tan said it would be 'significant', far exceeding the $5 million pledged by the government.

But what was important now, he said, was getting the aid to those affected, and reaching Singaporeans who need to be contacted.

As at 5 pm yesterday, there were 51 Singaporeans still uncontactable, down from 81. The number missing was 12, and those confirmed dead remained at nine.
 

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Jan 4, 2005
Red Cross makes S'pore its base for aid to Aceh

By Yap Su-yin


A FIVE-MAN team from the International Committee of the Red Cross is making Singapore its base for all its international relief efforts for tsunami-devastated Aceh.

The head of its regional delegation, Mr Francis Amar, who arrived in Singapore on New Year's Day to kickstart the project, explained that the Indonesian province's airports are overwhelmed.

And on the one main road, a journey of six or seven hours is now taking at least 16 hours.

His team, which focuses on areas affected by armed conflict, will comprise two logisticians, a specialist in air operations, an administrator and a purchaser.

They intend to enlist the help of the Singapore Red Cross, as well as the defence and foreign ministries here in their efforts to find ways to convey emergency supplies to Aceh.

One option being considered, said Mr Amar, is to charter vessels, containers and landing craft here.

Also keen to tap Singapore's infrastructure and logistical assets is the United Nations.

Its emergency relief coordinator for the tsunami disaster, Mr Jan Egeland, told the BBC that the UN would take up immediately Singapore's offer on Sunday to open its air and naval bases, warehouse space and offices to international relief efforts.

The UN head of external relations in Geneva, Mr Sergio Piazzi, told The Straits Times in a phone interview that the Republic's offer was 'most welcomed, as it is close to the affected areas and offers the best support for communication and logistics for distribution of assistance'.

UN officials are now in discussions with the local authorities on how best to use the facilities available here, he said.

Meanwhile, the International Red Cross is already capitalising on the infrastructure and support it has in Singapore, hiring handling agents and suppliers to deal with large quantities of incoming and outgoing aid.

Emergency cargo - rice, collapsible cans, petrol lamps and more - from a Red Cross warehouse in Nairobi, Kenya, has already arrived here. The items will be repacked into 'family sets' and despatched to the needy.

Said Mr Amar: 'We'll be sourcing most supplies from here. But Singapore will be where supplies congregate, and are repacked before being despatched to Aceh.'

His team will also liaise with other international aid agencies to limit duplication of relief efforts to Aceh.

Mr Amar estimates that the base here will be active for a month at the very least.
 

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Jan 7, 2005
THE POST-'65ERS
Relief efforts crack the Singapore stereotype

By Laurel Teo


LIKE most of the rest of the world, I was glued to the TV screen these past two weeks, surfing through the channels for updates on the tsunami disaster. When BBC and CNN cameras panned to soldiers with the familiar crescent moon and five stars emblazoned on their sleeves, I felt a lump in my throat.

For there for the world to see were Singapore soldiers and civil defence officers leaping down from their helicopters, helping to clear debris, set up medical services, or distribute relief goods.

They were among the first in the world to reach the devastated villages of Aceh and get cracking. Well, yes, the clip might have flashed by in all of five seconds, and probably no one else but Singaporeans would have recognised their own flag. But to me it meant a lot.

For most of the rest of the world, the word 'Singapore' brings to mind a clean and green Garden City, where rules are kept and things run like clockwork. Airline? Sea port? Transparency? No problem, we're No. 1.

But work by non-governmental organisations? World relief missions? We're certainly not leading the pack here. And too often, what we justify as careful budgeting and cost-benefit analyses have sometimes won us criticism for being calculative, or worse, stingy.

So I couldn't have been happier when recent events showed our country has not run true to stereotype. On the contrary, within four days of the disaster, we pledged $5 million in relief. We also sent helicopters and ships, disaster rescue, humanitarian and medical teams to Indonesia and Thailand totalling over 900 people. These deployments, for two weeks, has already cost $20 million.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong pledged another US$10 million (S$16.5 million) on top of what has already been given. Sure, compared to Australia's US$764 million and Germany's US$680 million, Singapore's contribution may seem like small beer - we didn't even make it to the top 10 list. But money isn't everything. One has to know what to do and how to do it.

PM Lee, for instance, was the first to propose an urgent meeting of leaders of Asean, other affected nations, as well as those leading relief efforts and United Nations agencies. To ease the strained rural airports and infrastructure in disaster-hit areas, Singapore has opened up its air and naval facilities as staging posts for relief operations. It is also offering office space, equipment and facilities for the UN to set up a regional centre to coordinate relief operations in the region.

And when it came to reports of how Singapore's orderly medical team started giving out queue numbers at disaster areas, I'm sure I wasn't the only one to let slip a grin. How typically efficient of us. And thank goodness too. We have the training, and we're in the right place.

Of course, cynics can always argue that Singapore's gestures may not be entirely altruistic. For what better way to earn the goodwill and trust of the new Yudhoyono government than to offer help to Indonesia? Not to mention the extra brownie points that we could chalk up by opening up our efficient facilities to the UN and international efforts. Who knows, our tourist dollars could benefit from the influx of aid workers.

As I said, this is a cynical view. To me, such an unprecedented scale of relief effort is proof that those were decisions not taken lightly, certainly not just to score a few points.

In my first column in this space, I had despaired if little Singapore would ever grow a big heart. I may just have to eat my words.
 

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Singapore sends medical supplies to Sri Lanka

SINGAPORE, Jan. 10 (Xinhuanet) -- Singapore sent on Monday a seven-ton consignment of medical supplies to Sri Lanka by air in response to the request from the Sri Lankan government.

According to a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the supplies included surgical tools, face masks, disposable syringes, wound dressing, thermometers and other emergency medicalitems.

This is the second batch of relief supplies from the Singapore government to Sri Lanka with the first having been dispatched on Dec. 29 last year.

So far, the Singapore government has pledged 5 million Singapore dollars (about 3 million US dollars) to assist in the emergency relief and rescue efforts in countries struck by the recent earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean. Enditem

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2005-01/10/content_2441275.htm
 

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Jan 11, 2005

Ahh! Clean water flows in from Singapore

By Yap Su-yin

WHEN put together, it looks like a row of four bloated elephants linked tail to trunk. The trunk of the last elephant spouts water - clean water.

Just what the Maldivian population of about 340,000 needs.

The country's groundwater sources have been contaminated by saltwater in the wake of the tsunami that swept over the cluster of islands in the Indian Ocean.

So the Public Utilities Board (PUB) sent over a water treatment plant, which arrived at the Maldivian capital of Male last Friday. It is now bound for the island of Gan in the south.

The 'elephants' were packed into three 20-foot containers, to be reassembled by 10 engineers from Keppel Engineering.

It will produce 240 cubic metres of clean drinking water a day, enough for 120,000 people.

The PUB has also flown out tens of thousands of litres of water via waterbags to tsunami-devastated areas.

'To reduce the threat of water-borne diseases and ensure public health, we need clean water. It's as simple as that,' said PUB director Harry Seah.

Two similar water desalination plants, from local water technology company GrahamTek Singapore, are headed the same way.

One will reach next weekend. The other available plant, sourced from its inventor's hometown in Cape Town, South Africa, will berth in Singapore until a suitable site is chosen, said GrahamTek director Roland Goh.

With all three plants pumping, there's enough water to quench the thirst of some 370,000 people each day.

The plant works this way: Muddy seawater is pumped in, and the solid impurities are filtered out.

Water sluices through a cylinder with cardboard-thin membranes, which removes salt by a process known as reverse osmosis. Finally, chlorine is added to flush out diarrhoea-causing bacteria.

One portable plant is already in place in Meulaboh, in Aceh, Indonesia.

Two more will reach Aceh this weekend.

Rather than desalt seawater, these two plants will purify surface water from lakes and rivers.

If the schedule sticks, that means 325,000 Acehnese will have drinking water within the fortnight.

Drinking from contaminated water can lead to diseases such as cholera, dysentery and typhoid. Symptoms include diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, fever and chills. Severe diarrhoea causes dehydration, muscle weakness and in extreme cases, might even be fatal if left untreated.

In a strange twist, water-scarce Singapore has suddenly found itself in a position to give life-saving water.

It is all thanks to the attention paid to developing the water technology industry here - both public and private - in recent times.

Just last month, the Environment Ministry announced the setting up of Waterhub, a $32-million centre to bring local and foreign industry experts here, in order to train people here to develop the technology, pick up know-how, and make water technology a money-spinner.

It seems that the industry has been called to action early.

Water treatment specialist, Hyflux, has custom-made two seawater desalination plants and four water generation plants, which purify river water and use less electricity.

The parts come in packages that take only a few people to drag, which is handy 'because few of the affected areas have containerised facilities to handle the equipment when it arrives', said Hyflux chief Olivia Lum.

Their final destination, however, has yet to be determined.

Even handier is Hyflux's Dragonfly water dispenser, the size of a water cooler, which takes water from air. It runs on a fraction of the electric power needed for a water desalination plant.

Hyflux has 1,200 units of the devices ready for despatch. Twenty has gone to Sri Lanka and 10 to the Maldives. Each unit can produce water for up to 20 people.

'Our units are ready at any time. And we have personnel on standby to run the big plants where needed,' said Ms Lum.

With transportation 'a nightmare at the moment', these highly portable units had the advantage of being easy to set up, with one generator supporting several units at once.

'There's also no need to deal with surface water or seawater, which is contaminated,' she added.

Relief organisations in Thailand, Sri Lanka and Chennai have asked for it.

So far, Hyflux has linked up with business associates in the affected countries to bring the units across quickly.

But with growing demand, further link-ups will be through the Foreign Ministry here, so that 'distribution can be better coordinated and we can help a wider pool of people'.

Logistics companies have also hurried to help fetch and ferry.

Poh Tiong Choon Logistics tied up with four freight-forwarding partners to ensure seven containers, each with 22,000 litres of PUB-water, reach parched survivors in Sri Lanka.

Deutsche Bank enlisted its logistics partner Schenker to deliver 13,000 litres of water from Singapore to Sri Lanka.

F&N Coca-Cola (Singapore), which manufactures and distributes non-alcoholic beverages here, tied up with three different groups - Yusen Logistics, Mercy Relief and the Singapore Armed Forces - to send 123,000 1.5-litre bottles of Ice Mountain drinking water.

Also reaching Sri Lanka and Aceh are 10 tonnes of water, plus 4,000 water purification tablets, brought in by Mercy Relief.

Said Dr Janice Khoo, a general practitioner who volunteers with Mercy Relief: 'The tablets may not be foolproof against all the germs, but they do help to kill most of the bacteria.'
 

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Media thanks nations for help

Singapore acknowledged for relief and summit initiative, US and Australia also praised

By Devi Asmarani
Indonesia Correspondent


JAKARTA - INDONESIA'S media has been recording the contributions of the countries, including Singapore, that have been helping out in the relief efforts in tsunami-stricken areas. They praised and thanked the nations for their generous response.

Several mainstream newspapers and websites carried reports of Singapore's efforts in Banda Aceh and Meulaboh, running with them pictures of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong getting a first-hand look at the devastation.

Singapore's initiation of the international summit on Thursday was also acknowledged.

Koran Tempo daily, of the leading Tempo group, touched on the urgency with which Singapore went about its business. It quoted Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Alwi Shihab as saying: 'We have seen it all, how Singapore deploys its heavy equipment to help the recovery in Meulaboh.'

By sending in the RSS Endurance helicopter landing ship and a Singapore Armed Forces team of engineers and medics, Singapore had shown its seriousness in the relief efforts, the paper reported.

Other papers like the Islamic-oriented Republika and Media Indonesia also gave column space to Singapore - carrying pictures of PM Lee visiting the SAF team in Banda Aceh during his trip there.

In its editorial on Wednesday, Media Indonesia, one of the top five national newspapers, said Singapore's role had been crucial not just in providing emergency relief assistance, but also in getting the international support to speed up aid to countries affected by the tsunamis. 'As of yesterday, PM Lee Hsien Loong was the only head of state who has seen with his own eyes the devastation in Aceh,' it said.

The paper acknowledged that Thursday's summit attended by 26 delegations from donor countries and organisations, as well as affected countries, was Singapore's initiative. That the island was made the hub of international relief programmes for rehabilitation and reconstruction showed the high level of trust the world had in the Republic, it added.

Other countries like the United States and Australia also received positive coverage for their efforts, with the papers using prominently pictures of US Secretary of State Colin Powell as well as Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

In its editorial on Thursday, the country's only English newspaper, The Jakarta Post, thanked all - from donor countries to individuals - for helping Indonesia. The powers of nature had humbled the Indonesian people, the paper said, 'but we are even more humbled by the generosity shown by the people all around the world'.
 

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Singapore gets relief to area most cut off from aid

Local knowledge helped S'pore to set up relief hub at worst-hit Indonesian town
By Barry Wain


MEULABOH (INDONESIA) - WHEN Asia's huge earthquake and accompanying tsunami hammered Indonesia, major donor countries rushed relief supplies to Jakarta or provincial capitals near the disaster zone.

But Singapore, Indonesia's tiny but wealthy neighbour, targeted this town of about 50,000 people nearest the epicentre of the catastrophe off the isolated west coast of Aceh province.

Using its local knowledge and close contacts with the Indonesian military, Singapore's armed forces concluded that what remained of the coastal towns and villages would be out of reach of most of the food, clothing and medicines pouring in from abroad.

The solution: Dispatch a Navy landing ship packed with motor vehicles, earth-moving equipment and its own smaller landing craft to establish an aid beachhead for an area where all infrastructure - roads, landing strips and harbours - had been obliterated.

The strategy paid off this week when Singapore army engineers and navy divers secured two landing sites on the still-shifting shoreline to enable the ship to start unloading bulldozers, mechanical shovels and forklifts to begin heavy-duty relief work.

The breakthrough will allow Meulaboh to become a hub for restoration work along Aceh's west coast, where tens of thousands of people are believed to have been killed. 'The bridge has been established,' said Mr Alwi Shihab, Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for Social Welfare, who heads the country's national recovery effort.

Singapore's performance shows that even when a huge natural disaster requires a massive and costly response, pinpointed doses of limited aid can yield disproportionate benefits.

A small city-state with a developed economy whose success is both envied and resented by nearby countries, Singapore anticipated a potential flaw in international relief operations.

Vast quantities of aid meant for victims in Aceh were flown to Banda Aceh, the ravaged provincial capital, and to the city of Medan to the south. But there was no way of getting that aid to the stricken communities on the west coast, which lacked access roads or useable harbours or airstrips.

As Singapore 'lacks the resources of a China or India', Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on a visit to the area on Tuesday, it decided to act on its geographic advantage. 'We studied the maps and realised what the problems would be,' said Singapore's Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean.

Knowledge of the terrain helped: the Singapore Armed Forces has joined the Indonesian Navy over the years in carrying out civic projects such as providing dental care and repairing community facilities around Meulaboh, which is 50km north of the earthquake's epicentre.

A critical problem was - and remains - that Meulaboh and other towns along the west coast have been virtually cut off from the outside world since the quake and tsunami struck.

Roads are impassable, with bridges destroyed and large sections washed away or blocked by landslides and trees. Meulaboh's only airstrip is cracked and scarred, making it impossible for fixed-wing aircraft to land safely. As a result, supplies are piling up in Banda Aceh and Medan.

At Indonesia's request, Singapore deployed heavy- and medium-lift military helicopters to open a supply pipeline. But, like American Seahawk helicopters launched from the USS Lincoln, they can carry only the most urgent supplies and personnel, such as medicines and medical staff. It takes each helicopter hours to fly the round trip from Banda Aceh or Medan.

In Meulaboh, meanwhile, the 20km road from the battered airstrip to the city is becoming unsafe, which means landing sites need to be prepared for helicopters closer to town.

To meet these challenges, Singapore decided to send a 6,000-tonne landing ship, with heavy equipment and trucks and its own fuel supplies, and a special deck from which helicopters can operate.

The vessel arrived off Meulaboh on Sunday, but met logistical nightmares securing a beachhead to begin discharging its cargo. For a start, the ship had to weigh the need to get close to shore against the advantage of staying in deep water in case another tsunami struck.

Even establishing exactly where the shoreline is wasn't easy. The Singaporeans found that the coastline of north-west Sumatra island had shifted, by several hundred metres in some places. 'What we have on radar doesn't match what we see on our charts,' said one navy officer.

Most obvious landing sites had been swept away. The one surviving concrete jetty was judged unsafe for supporting heavy vehicles. Navy divers scoured the murky waters looking for a practical place to drive its vehicles ashore and into town.

By Tuesday, however, the Singaporeans had established a beachhead and were using excavators and mechanical shovels to shift tonnes of debris - battered cars, smashed fishing boats, concrete blocks piled metres deep - to give themselves a base to enter the city.

In the bay, a Singaporean ship lay at anchor, producing 500 litres of drinking water an hour. A Singaporean engineer was making an assessment of the airport to see what was required to get it back in operation. Alternative helicopter landing pads had been identified in town, and some were already in use.

Supplies are now moving into Meulaboh at 20 times the rate before the landing ship arrived. And a second landing ship is on the way from Singapore. 'It means it is possible to get the heavy equipment in now,' said Mr Alwi.

Nine days after the disaster struck, some fruit and vegetable markets were starting to open again, he said. 'People are picking up.'

Mr Alwi said Meulaboh would become a second hub, with Banda Aceh, for recovery efforts on the west coast. -- ASIAN WALL STREET JOURNAL
 

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Jan 23, 2005
French official praises S'pore's relief efforts

SINGAPORE'S efficient relief efforts in Sumatra more than impressed veteran French bureaucrat Jean-Francois Deniau, who toured the tsunami-affected region recently with the French Navy.

Mr Deniau, who arrived in Singapore yesterday morning, spoke to The Sunday Times before flying off today for Mauritius.

The former French cabinet minister and Le Figaro columnist, who is in his 80s, said he wanted to convey his impressions of the professionalism of Singapore's relief efforts to the authorities here.

'Some organisations from other countries were there but they didn't know what to do. But Singapore, you are very efficient. You knew what you had to do and you had the right equipment. You speak the language and it was then easier to get directly into the job.'

He added: 'It was absolutely well-organised. Your people are first-class.'

Mr Deniau, who works with humanitarian organisations like Medecins Sans Frontieres and Medecin Du Monde, spent eight days in Banda Aceh, Meulaboh and some of the smaller islands off Sumatra, like Nias, travelling onboard the French helicopter carrier Jeanne d'Arc.

'In Europe it was a big shock about Thailand, because that's where many of the European tourists were killed. But Sumatra is the most destroyed place.'

The French have been criticised for their late arrival on the scene.

But Mr Deniau said: 'The ship was in the Suez Canal. It's a long way. And the Jeanne d'Arc, she's an old lady. She's not very fast.'

He added that French emergency aid arrived in Sri Lanka just a few days after the disaster struck.

Mr Deniau, who is the honorary chairman of Care France, said that while the contribution of the state was important - for example, in providing ships and helicopters - providing the money for rebuilding was the job of the non-governmental organisations, which have received many donations from the public.

'Announcing the figures is one thing,' he said. 'To really deliver the aid in action is another.'

His idea to help rebuild Sumatra is to give the fishermen money to build or buy new boats.

'It's important to let them be able to get back to normal life. It wouldn't be expensive but it would be a positive and direct action.' -- Sharlene Tan

Copyright © 2004 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.
 

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Jan 20, 2005
SAF relief team in Meulaboh heads home

By David Boey


MEULABOH - FIRST Sergeant Joseph Tan, 25, the senior medic aboard the RSS Endurance, does not have the full length of the helicopter deck for his evening run since vehicles started returning to the ship from Meulaboh a few days ago.

About half of the 75m-long heli deck has been turned into a parking lot for Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) vehicles brought back to the ship from the west Sumatra town.

But 1st Sgt Tan is not complaining that his exercise area has shrunk.

It is a sign that the SAF relief effort has made good headway in helping the town recover from the devastating earthquake and tsunami on Dec 26.

The 141m-long Landing Ship Tank (LST) is reloading vehicles and is preparing to depart for Singapore this weekend with her sister ship, RSS Endeavour, now that as many as 32 international humanitarian organisations have been taking over relief work in Meulaboh, said a spokesman for the Singapore relief team yesterday.

A third LST, RSS Persistence, left for Singapore on Tuesday evening after unloading tonnes of supplies of food, medicine and even items like pacifiers and feeding bottles for infants.

As fast landing craft ferried more vehicles to the Endurance and the Endeavour yesterday, some landing craft returned to shore with relief supplies donated by the Singapore Red Cross and Mercy Relief.

Just off the landing beach used by landing craft are neat piles of supplies, all wrapped in clear plastic and marked with labels like 'Start School Package' or 'cooking oil'.

They do not stay there for long as trucks from the Indonesian Armed Forces and relief organisations arrive regularly to clear the pile.

Meulaboh residents received their first packages of supplies, some of which were packed by students in Singapore, from the Singapore Red Cross on Tuesday and the distribution of thousands more food packages continued yesterday.

Alongside the work, preparations are also being made for Muslim SAF servicemen to observe Hari Raya Haji tomorrow with Meulaboh residents.
 

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Jan 22, 2005

Job done, SAF leaves Meulaboh

Leave-taking includes joining locals to mark Hari Raya Haji and wreath-laying at sea
By David Boey
ABOARD RSS ENDURANCE


OFF MEULABOH - THE Singapore Armed Forces bid farewell to Meulaboh at two ceremonies yesterday.


FRIENDS' FAREWELL: As the SAF ended its relief mission and headed home yesterday, soldiers of the TNI garrison in Meulaboh under the command of Colonel Geerhan Lantara said their goodbyes at the beach area where the Republic's troops first landed on Jan 1 to help the victims of the tsunami disaster. -- TERENCE TAN

Personnel from the SAF's Humanitarian Assistance Support Group aboard RSS Endurance and RSS Endeavour joined residents for a dawn ceremony to mark Hari Raya Haji and, during another, said goodbye at a mass grave for victims of the deadly earthquake and tsunami which struck on Dec 26.

The two 141m-long Landing Ship Tanks (LST) should arrive back at Changi Naval Base on Monday morning.

About 700 personnel from the SAF and Singapore Civil Defence Force, together with some 60 volunteers from the Singapore Red Cross, left the west Sumatra coastal town aboard RSS Endurance and RSS Endeavour after helping the Indonesian authorities and the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) with their earthquake and tsunami relief operations.

Their initial efforts helped pave the way for more than 30 humanitarian organisations from around the world to take over relief work in Meulaboh.

Though they all look forward to seeing friends and family after a long spell in Aceh, some SAF soldiers said they would treasure memories of their mission.

Private Mohamad Fadli bin Mohamad Noor, 23, a full-time national serviceman who is a storeman with the 7th Singapore Infantry Brigade, said: 'If there's a chance to stay, I'll stay.

'For me, my parents are there in Singapore but many people here have lost their families and I'm glad I was here to help them.'

Yesterday marked Pte Fadli's first Hari Raya Haji away from home, but he had no need to feel alone as he joined Indonesians for prayers just after dawn at a TNI camp called Posko.

About 70 Muslim personnel from the two ships and 30 SAF servicemen led by Colonel Tan Chuan-Jin, commander of the Singapore relief team in Meulaboh, joined about 1,000 Meulaboh residents for the observance of their Hari Raya Haji ceremonies.

Col Tan presented 20 head of livestock - a mix of bulls and water buffalo - to Meulaboh residents on behalf of the Singapore relief team.

One bull was slaughtered at Posko during the sacrificial rites of the korban ceremony and the meat was later distributed to Meulaboh residents.

Private Zulhilmi bin Ahmad Johari, 21, an NSF storeman with the 7th Singapore Infantry Brigade, also spent his first Hari Raya Haji away from his family yesterday.

He said: 'I feel proud that I did something worthwhile in Meulaboh and I am looking forward to seeing my family again.'

Pte Zulhilmi and more than 400 personnel aboard the Endurance have been away from Singapore since Dec 31.

The Endeavour left Singapore on Jan 14 carrying some 200 personnel and the Singapore Red Cross volunteers and arrived off Meulaboh last Sunday.

A third LST, RSS Persistence, left for Singapore earlier this week.

Morning prayers at Posko, which is about 3km inland and was not affected by the killer waves, were held on the camp's soccer field to allow as many soldiers and residents as possible to take part.

Later in the day, about 200 personnel from the two ships joined local residents for a memorial service at a mass grave at the tip of a promontory on which Meulaboh's downtown area was built.

Much of the downtown area was levelled on Dec 26 and nearly a third of its 40,000 residents were killed in the disaster.

Col Tan and Colonel Geerhan Lantara, the commander of the TNI garrison in Meulaboh, each laid a floral wreath at the gravesite and then bade each other farewell.

The Singapore relief team returned to their ships aboard fast landing craft.

Aboard the Endurance and Endeavour, hundreds of SAF servicemen waited on deck.

As the two ships passed the tip of the promontory, floral wreaths were tossed off the Navy ships by Lieutenant-Colonel Li Lit Siew, commanding officer of RSS Endurance, and Major Yap Chee Eng, commanding officer of RSS Endeavour.

An order was given and each soldier saluted the victims of the disaster as the Endurance and the Endeavour each set a course for Singapore, their humanitarian mission accomplished.
 

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SAF played key role in providing transport, says UN

By David Boey


MEULABOH - THE United Nations' senior emergency adviser commended Singapore for providing land and air transport to help with relief operations in Aceh.

Mr Daniel Augstburger, 52, said around 100 workers assisting the UN in relief efforts along Sumatra's west coast have counted on the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) to help move personnel and supplies around Aceh.

'They played a key role in making transport available inside Meulaboh as well as helicopters running the air route to Medan,' he said on Thursday.

Assistance has also been extended to the 20 non-governmental organisations in Meulaboh assisting the UN.

Though the SAF's Humanitarian Assistance Support Group was expected to return to Singapore yesterday evening, three Chinook helicopters will remain to help the Indonesian authorities and humanitarian bodies around Aceh.

Singapore was the first country to send relief personnel and vehicles to Meulaboh.

Their presence here since Jan 2 has helped improve the coastal town's access to the sea after pier-side facilities were destroyed by the waves.

Though the damaged airport runway 16km away cannot be used by large planes, the seven helicopter landing points built by SAF combat engineers and Indonesian soldiers have helped maintain an 'air bridge' between Meulaboh and other places in Aceh.

Mr Augstburger added that the SAF's presence has been 'extremely helpful' in winning local people's support for the Indonesian Armed Forces' presence in Aceh, which has witnessed years of separatist strife.

'Looking ahead, one of the UN's next priorities is helping the Indonesians restore transport links like roads and bridges and providing electricity, clean water and sewage systems to the Acehnese,' he said.

Salt water has wrecked agricultural production along much of Sumatra's west coast.

'You cannot grow rice here for a pretty long period. The problem is that now all this population is sitting idle. Another priority for us is to try to coordinate a cash-for-work programme with the Indonesian authorities to kick off the economy in the area,' Mr Augstburger said.

He was not sure whether the UN could extend its planned stay of two months.

'That's pretty much up to the Indonesian authorities to tell us but it's evident that the emergency will last over several months,' he said.
 
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